Housing Benefit for people renting privately
Updated: 07 Feb 2016
There are specific Housing Benefit rules that apply if you wish to consider a tenancy in the Private Rented Sector (non Housing Executive accommodation). This is an overview of those rules - if you require more detailed information about your own circumstances please call us on 03448 920 902.
What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit is a social security benefit administered by the Housing Executive. It is designed to help people on a low income meet their housing costs. A person who receives state benefits or is in part time employment or receives a low wage may be entitled to an award of Housing Benefit
Can I get Housing Benefit for privately rented accommodation?
Yes, anyone who has to pay rent or rates for accommodation they are occupying can apply for Housing Benefit. There are qualifying conditions but it does not matter if your landlord is a Registered Housing Association, a private company or a private individual.
A person living in a hostel or bed and breakfast accommodation, a boarder or a lodger can also apply.
You will not however be able to get Housing Benefit if you are living with a close relative (such as a parent, brother or sister) and paying them rent.
Housing Benefit will not cover any costs for fuel or food that you have to pay or any personal costs for heating or electricity.
How much Housing Benefit will I get?
This depends on 3 things.
For tenants of a private landlord (a private company or a private individual) the law may require us to restrict the rent you are being charged to a lower figure.
If you rent from a private landlord you can find out in advance what rental level will be used in your Housing Benefit calculation.
From 1st January 2012 your rent may be restricted to a shared accommodation rate if you are under 35 and rent from a private landlord that is not a Registered Housing Association. This can apply even where you have sole access to all the rooms and facilities of the home you occupy.
We will also consider your financial circumstances and the size of your family unit to see if you can afford to pay some of your charges yourself
If you receive a passported benefit, namely Income Support, Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Guaranteed Pension Credit or Employment Support Allowance (Income Related) there will be no means test.
If you do not receive a passported income we will compare your Personal Allowance (the amount set by government that you need to live on each week based on your family circumstances) with your Eligible Income. If your Eligible Income is higher than your Personal Allowance we will reduce your Housing Benefit award accordingly.
You cannot qualify for an award of Housing Benefit if you possess capital in excess of £16,000, unless you are in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit
Deductions for a non dependant
If you have someone over 18 living with you, your award of Housing may be reduced in some cases
If you have someone over 18 living with you for whom you do not receive child benefit (such a person is usually treated as a non dependant), a deduction may be made from your Housing Benefit award. The amount of deduction to be made will depend on the non dependant’s age, and the amount and type of income they receive. A deduction may be made this way for each non dependant living with you.
There are some circumstances when we will never make a deduction for a non dependant, for example if the person applying for Housing Benefit (or their partner) receives DLA care, Attendance Allowance or is registered blind.
Can I get an indication of any likely Housing Benefit award before I agree to move in?
Yes, if you get in touch with us we will be able to give you an indication of how much Housing Benefit you could be entitled to before you move in to a property. Please have all details of your family circumstances, incomes and accommodation charges nearby when you make your enquiry to allow us to deal with your questions as accurately and quickly as possible.
What happens if I don’t have enough money to pay my landlord?
You can explain your circumstances to your landlord and ask if the rent can be reduced or you can try to find cheaper accommodation. If you are having difficulty paying your rent you can also apply to the Housing Executive for a Discretionary Housing Payment. The funds for this payment however are limited and if you were successful in applying it may only be allowed for a relatively short period of time. A discretionary payment can only be allowed to cover any shortfall as a result of a rent restriction made by the Housing Executive. It cannot be used to make up any reductions because of a means test or any deductions made because of a non dependant.
How will my Housing Benefit be paid?
Payments of Housing Benefit can be made in a number of ways. We can pay you directly by cheque or by means of a credit to your bank account. We can also make the payments directly to your landlord’s bank account.